Review: Job Simulator
Is it an accurate simulator if the jobs are fun?
Job Simulator was a game I was really hoping to see make it to PlayStation VR. Being one of those games that sat on my Steam wishlist (just in case I ever got a capable computer), it was a relief to have it make to the controlled environment of the PS4.
Set in the far future, Job Simulator sees you taking the role of a human in a world of floating robot TVs. The ‘bots have painstakingly created simulations of ‘JOB’ so you can experience what it was like to work for a living back in the day. You’re presented with four simulations to choose from: Chef, Office Worker, Mechanic and Store Clerk.
Essentially, each of the available simulations finds you taking on various tasks in this job, with the opportunity to mess around with the environment to your heart’s content. Utilising twin Move controllers, you’re able to pick up and manipulate objects in a way that quickly feels very natural. Each simulation anchors you in one place, with limited range of movement to rotate and shift back and forth. Each simulation puts you in intentionally close quarters, too – a cubicle in the office, or a standing-room-only kitchen with modular counters to bring you any of the ingredients or appliances you might need. It’s a smart move that eliminates the risk of crashing into your real-world surroundings, without having to be anchored to a chair. In fact, vertical movement is encouraged – so be prepared to shift up and down as you play.
While each of these simulations does have a ‘critical mission path’, they’re specifically designed to be optional. Your next task is queued up with an interactible object rather than automatically beginning, to give you time to mess around as much as you like. And honestly, thats where most of the fun lies – throwing objects at the bots, fooling around with the tools and gimmicks available, and solving the tasks presented in as obtuse a way as you can think of will keep you going for a LONG time. After finding a ‘Flappy Bot’ game disc in the office simulation, I legitimately spent ten minutes playing a clone of a terrible mobile game on a fake PC by hitting fake keys, WITHIN a simulated world, while sitting in my living room.
The best part of Job Simulator is how accurately your movements are tracked. With the advantage of starting on the Vive, Job Sim has a leg up on VR interaction and it shows. The simple act of throwing an object with one hand and catching it with the other is seamless, and far more satisfying than you might think. As cartoonish as the world might be with its simple visual style, you truly feel engaged with it after only a few moments.
The only flaws I could find with the game are more than likely effects of its porting from the PC-based VR hardware. When calibrating at the start of the game, you’re able to adjust the level/distance of the floor from your headset so that you can appear as the right height when playing the game. This is achieved by judging the position of a pair of footprints to align them with where it feels like your feet should be, but what feels right is actually a great deal too far away, and leaves you hovering way too high up in the game world. I’m not a tall person by any means, so this isn’t an issue of being an abnormal height to begin with – more likely an issue with Job Simulator PC being optimised for a seated position. Placing the footprints at about knee level seems to alleviate the issue.
The second and more annoying issue has to do with detection of the Move controls. Because these are tracked based on the light spheres at the top of each peripheral, interacting with the objects ‘behind’ you will often mean your body is blocking the lights and preventing thenPlaystation Camera from tracking them whatsoever. For the most part very little is placed directly behind you to prevent this, but on the occasions it does happen it’s pretty jarring to have your hands disappear or just start sliding away base don the last detected movement.
At the end of the day, Job Simulator has been one of the best and most lasting experiences with the PSVR so far for me, alongside Batman: Arkham VR. The amount of fun you can have in each job really helps to extend the gameplay without feeling like it’s been padded out. There’s plenty of weird little interactions and easter eggs to be found — try photocopying your face in the office — so be prepared to have a good laugh at your own expense.
Job Simulator was reviewed using a retail code on PS4 using PS VR, as purchased by the reviewer.
Review: Job Simulator